Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry is the philosophy of safe and clear communication put forth in Scripture. A method that will help turn this philosophy into practice is the Speaker-Listener Technique. It is very simple, yet very powerful. This technique will force you to speak reflectively and listen receptively.
The intentional use of this method will help your daily communication become more effective. The method should be strictly applied when issues are emotional and/or sensitive.
Rules for the Speaker-Listener Technique (From Christian PREP, Inc., 1993)
Rules for Speaker and Listener
- The Speaker has the floor.
- Share the floor.
- No problem solving.
- Stay on one subject at a time.
- You can stop the flow for a moment if something is not going right.
Rules for the Speaker
- Don’t go on and on.
- Talk in small chunks (a sentence or two).
- Stop and allow the Listener to paraphrase what has been said.
- Speak for yourself.
- You can pass the floor at any time to the listener to hear his side of the story.
Rules for the Listener
- Paraphrase what the Speaker is saying.
- You can ask for examples or explanations of something that the Speaker said.
- Do not offer your opinions or interpretations until you get the floor.
- Concentrate on what the Speaker is saying, and attempt to edit out your internal responses.
- When I teach this material, I give a magnetic “floor” to use as a physical reminder of who has the floor.
- Remember: When you need to use this technique the most, you will want to use it the least.